The Main Types of Proxy Server Protocols

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Proxy servers are a great tool for anyone with work to do on the internet. Keeping your data secure and being able to browse the internet anonymously should be a high priority for everyone. Proxy server protocols, also called data transmission protocols, are a key source of proxying benefits. This article discusses the main types of proxy server protocols.

From data security to easy data mining, proxies are brilliant platforms where you can work more and stress less. Below, we’ll explore several types of data transmission protocols.

What is a protocol?

Generally, a protocol is a set of rules. Merriam-Webster defines computing protocols as “conventions governing treatment and especially formatting of data in an electronic communications system.” The Internet is the highway for proxied data transmission. There, protocols spell out essential traffic rules such as size of data packets, destination management, and data security. Industry groups, international associations, and government are the main contributors to these preset conventions.

SOCKS proxy server

The SOCKS protocol (short for “Socket Secure”) transmits data between client (e.g., your computer) and server (usually a website) through a proxy, which shields your computer’s identity.

Within the SOCKS context, the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) collects and reassembles packets of transmitted data. The Internet Protocol (IP) ensures that data reaches its intended network. It’s these two protocols that enable digital devices to communicate over long distances.

Of two versions widely used today, SOCKS4 handles client/server transmission efficiently, but without authentication. Therefore, it wouldn’t be appropriate in projects that involve – among other examples – gaming sites or Skype. SOCKS5, the more recent version, can handle voice and video, and supports advanced authentication methods.

HTTP proxy server

The HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) proxy is built expressly for proxying web requests. It’s usually the best choice for accessing http:// or https:// addresses. All browsers and most HTTP client software support this widely used protocol. They also support SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) – a connection that encrypts data transmissions to keep outsiders from “listening in.” Many websites also use SSL for unencrypted connections.

Some mobile browsers and many company intranets use HTTP proxies to cache a user’s most visited websites. Caching stores frequently used data in memory. That means it can load to your screen a lot faster; the system doesn’t have to fetch it from a remote site, or by an application, every time. This feature speeds proxy requests. Researchers often use HTTP proxies for browsing web pages, viewing images, downloading files, and scraping content.

FTP proxy server

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a client/server protocol for moving files to or from a host computer. The Anonymous version of FTP is activated simply by entering “anonymous” as a user ID. This gives you access to files from the Internet without requiring a user ID or password.

SSL proxy server

“SSL” stands for Secure Sockets Layer. The “S” in HTTPS also stands for “Secure.” HTTPS combines HTTP and SSL/TLS (Transport Layer Security). As HTTP is a “layer” in data transmission structure, so SSL (or HTTPS) is an additional layer below it. This enables a proxy to transfer data securely and anonymously between client and server. The SSL layer encrypts your data against access by third parties, including your internet service provider.

Our article Proxy Server Requests over HTTPS shows how to send encrypted data requests on an HTTP server using the CONNECT method.

Keep yourself secure online

Every time you go online, for leisurely browsing or for business purposes, your personal data is at risk for interception. Without the security of the protocols we’ve discussed here, hackers could easily pick up your data. That includes credit card information, passwords, and general browsing activities.

But a good proxy server, using these protocols in the right combinations, is a sure way for you to use the internet securely and anonymously. It keeps those nosy hackers at bay. And in today’s world of sophisticated cybercriminals, having good security on your computer is just as important as the physical security measures in your home.